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Sunday, 27 March 2005
The Parakeets of Hyde Park
Topic: Chicago
From time to time the personnel here at Takotron ruminate on their location in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. It's a quick ride to downtown, but with a lot of friends and action going on up North, on might begin to question the merits of living down here. There are many attributes to this neighborhood, but here's one you might not have known: Hyde Park (and no other part of Chicago) is occupied by a large population of WILD PARAKEETS. They are of courese indigenous to South America, but somehow 2 Adam and Eve parakeets escaped captivity and started a whole population that has lived here for more than 20 years. They are totally feral now, and like to stir things up, blocking ComEd's power transformers, and making tons of noise. Former mayor Harold Washington (who represented Hyde Park) was fond of them and protected them from the US Dept of Agriculture's attempts to remove them. A few weeks ago I saw them in a tree--I hadn't heard about them and was puzzled and suprised. I suppressed the memory, thinking I was either mistaken or going nuts. But the other day I spoke with a woman from work who told me all about them. Encouraged, I went out searching for them today. A bunch of them live in a tree on the east side of Woodlawn, just north of 55th street. The Parakeets will rule Hyde Park forever, bringing a taste of the tropical to our fair city.

Here are some links to people with more info on our beloved birds:
Hyde Park Parakeets
U of Chicago Magazine
Harold Washinton Park

Parakeets and Takotron - Represent Hyde Park

Posted by thenovakids at 6:34 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:06 AM CDT
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Topic: Site Features




Posted by thenovakids at 2:11 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:05 AM CDT
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Wednesday, 23 March 2005
Topic: Site Features

Posted by thenovakids at 8:38 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:02 AM CDT
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Tuesday, 22 March 2005
Thom Mayne
Topic: Architecture / Chicago
While making a recycling run at work I skimmed the cover of the NY Times from a couple days ago. It turns out Thom Mayne, principal of the architectural firm Morphosis, just received the 2005 Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious award in the field. Here is the press release: 2005 Pritzker Prize Media Kit

Kei's dad, who is always on top of things going on in the artistic world, lent me an article on Mayne from the NYT Magazine last month. Then it turned out that the Chicago Architecture Foundation's current (excellent) show on New Federal Architecture features 2 or 3 Morphosis projects. i had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Mayne give an inspiring, informative lecture several weeks ago. He seemed, like his work, to be both innovative and practical, showing rationality and passion. If I were the Times, I would describe his style and shoes ("salt-and-pepper beard," I believe the article said). i'll say he had a brown scarf, and then we can move one. A major section of a federal building Morphosis designed in SF is A/C-free, employing a "breathing skin' exterior. i guess 2 weeks in a year it's uncomfortably hot (over 75 F), but the rest of the time it works quite well, naturally and efficiently. He said, people retort that it's in the bay area, where you don't have extreme temperature variances. But he responds by explaining that that is precisely what makes it an ideal project to experiment with such an innovative design--if it can be made to work in SF, we can move on from there. I know that's not a perfect example, but hopefully you can see the way rationality and innovation dovetail with his work/philosophy. If you're in the area you should check out the exhibit. It's free. Then in May the official presentation of the prize will take place in Chicago's Millenium Park at the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion. DO IT.

Posted by thenovakids at 1:37 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:02 AM CDT
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Monday, 14 March 2005
Do you like Mies? / Kenchikuka ni narou!
Topic: Architecture / Chicago
Although it is not unusual for Takotron to pithily describe its impressive accomplishments, it is rare that we disclose information about our personal plans, intentions, and undertakings. However, we feel it is necessary to release the following statement:

Our CEO and founder, thenovakids entity 00001, alias Mordecai, has been granted acceptance to the Illinois Institute of Technology's College of Architecture to pursue a Masters degree in the field of Architecture. There is a reasonable chance that he will attend this institution, and ultimately one day become an architect with grandiose plans for shaping our world's (and others') cities. IIT is built from the master plan of Mies van der Rohe, who emigrated from Nazi Germany where he headed the late Bauhaus. He subsequently was invited to chair the architecture department (when it was called the Armour Institute of Technology) and has since had an enormous and indelible impact on the school. The keystone building for the architecture dept. is his famous Crown Hall (1956), where the architecture studios take place. His famous 860-880 N Lake Shore Dr. apartments (comp. 1951) are another example of his most successful and influential work.

Unfortunately, his "international" high-rise style was so influential that today it is sometimes difficult to understand the true significance of Mies. The Promontory Apartments (1949), his first completed high-rise, is around the corner from my apartment. Speaking for my generation, which has experienced the imitation before the original, it looks more like a housing project than the origin of revolutionary Modern architecture. (left: Promontory Apts. ; right: Cabrini Greens)

Rem Koolhaas is responsible for the new student center at IIT, which features a steel tube to muffle the rattle of the 'L,' as well as a number of orange honeycomb polymer walls (Panelite) extending to the bathrooms, allowing me to urinate in a surreal orange glow. It also features icon mosaics that depict the faces of Mies and several other founders of the school. "I do not respect Mies, I love Mies. I have studied Mies, excavated Mies, reassembled Mies. I have cleaned Mies. Because I do not revere Mies I'm at odds with his admirers" (Content 182). Koolhaas' McCormick Center is an embodiment of that sentiment:

Koolhaas, in a gossipy moment, also states, "Mies's model shop had a (frequently exploited) view of the photo studios of Playboy Magazine [in Chicago]--all during the Fifties and Sixties Mies's architecture and the first generation of playmates had been produced in voyeuristic proximity. It is exactly that kind of proximity we proposed for the Campus Center and the Commons, and which the Miesians wanted to undo" (ibid. 189). I kind of see what he means, but I'm not sure its significance is as profound as he implies. I often have this type of reaction to Koolhaas' writings. I enjoy them immensely.

Is this post less entertaining than those in the past? Is TAKOTRON boring you? Are you unable to sit there for more than 2 minutes without clicking your mouse? We refuse to acknowledge any shortcomings on our part, nor will we grovel before you, buffoons for your amusement. We like entertainment and the frantic ADD pace of todays cyberworld. That is why we at Takotron provide you with our Cyan and Magenta world, luring you. But now you feel the catch. Yes. Go with it. You are becoming one of thenovakids. Death and rebirth, the origin and apocalypse.

Moving on, it is our opinion that Charles Edouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier, offers a more lasting and revolutionary Modern architecture. Architect Thom Mayne (principal of Morphosis) expressed his disgust with much of the architecture being chosen by clients today, including a revival of an 18th century pseudo-Classical manor style, as we approach the 100-year anniversary of Corbusier's early work. He's absolutely right--and it's America where these bad ideas have taken root. It is evident that Mies' modernism caught on, but it's interesting to daydream about what our cities would look like if they followed the ideas of Corbusier instead. The latter was certainly more radical, or in a more anti-establishment way. Both men were strong-willed and firm in their opinions, but Mies was certainly better at courting clients (he suggests treating them like children unsure of what they want). Corbusier's utopia was a technocracy, a city lead by radical entrepreneurs occupying huge cross-shaped towers in the cities' centers (intersected by airplane runways). But he also thought extensively about communal space and working class housing in a way that still seems very progressive (and unfortunately far from reality). My hero.

Posted by thenovakids at 9:08 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:01 AM CDT
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Sunday, 13 March 2005
Topic: Video Games
Greetings from Takotron HQ. First off, you may be wondering about the fascinating neologism you may periodically encounter in the various realms dominated by Takotron. The word, NUDESEXFATBUTT, is not in fact one of our many great products, but rather a spontaneous AI entity traversing our shared beloved lysozomatic cyberworld. While searching for studio apartments, I 'Googled,' as they say, the name of an apartment complex I was interested in, and one of the first search results contained a number of references to the afformentioned neologism (completely unrelated to the apartment I was searching for). You may see see the component terms of the word used in various contexts that are crass, vulgar, inappropriate, and unrelated to the slick professional image we maintain here at Takotron. The word NUDESEXFATBUTT, or rather, the entity denoted by that term, should conjure images of strength and nobility, as well as plumpness and allure.

Moving on to the evenings next subject, we have been experimenting with a number of classic arcade video games through PC emulation. The results range from simply amusing to world-view altering. But probably not. What is most prevelant, and always interesting, is the familiar cultural exchange in Japanese and American video game creation.

Today Japan is the obvious empire of video game technology. In fact, they have game centers aka arcades all over. Why is America's arcade culture dead? Please allow a digression: Nathans Hot Dogs of Commack, the Coney Island chain, had a great arcade but it gradually declined through the 90s and is now completely gone. Actually, before becoming Nathan's, it was Chuck E. Cheeses or however you're supposed to spell that shit, and then it was simply "The Emporium", with broken vestigal remnants of animatronic Chucky Cheeze characters. I had my birthday party there in 4th grade, ca 1990. Perhaps the game Pit-Fighter rocked your 9 year old world, as well. This was the shit, pre-Mortal Kombat blood and photo-based graphics: BRUTALITY BONUS

Malls rarely have arcades anymore, and movie theatres maybe just a few games. But go to Japan and you will find arcades all over with 4 floors of games. You can place real bets on videogame horseraces. But then again, I think I like earlier games more than ones coming out. I like having a temporary but thorough distraction, but I'd rather not have to be involved in an enveloping plot, or, honestly, have to think. To me the side-scrolling fighter represents the pinnacle of video game entertainment. I'm talking Ninja Turtles, Alien v. Predator, Double Dragon, Shinobi, Streets of Rage, etc. Commack Multiplex was where we all saw movies growing up, before the age of nice theatres with good sound and stadium seating. Did you know that there was a stabbing or maybe a shooting after a showing of Boyz n the Hood? Or that someone found a fetus in a toilet in the ladies room? These are the legends of Commack Multiplex. They had a bunch of games, and I remember pumping quarters into Combatribes, which was sort of a lousy cartoony Streets of Rage predecessor:

Now it is time to address the topic of this entry, Nichibei Video-Cultural Exchange, aka the Japan-American Game-Culture Exchange, or the Nichibei Arcade Simulation Transfer and Exchange (N.A.S.T.E., pron. "nasty"). During the early years of the videogame boom, in the 70s and early 80s, there were a lot of rip-off versions of arcade games circulating. This is an amusing Japanese version of Pac-Man, "Hangly Man" (Hungry Man). The game is pretty much the same, though the maze-levels are badly mapped out. The ghosts' names, however, are perhaps an improvement.

Another interesting example is Renegade, a version of Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun (Kunio of Hot-blooded High). In the original you are a High School student fighting bullies and eventually Bosouzoku and Yakuza who beat up your little brother. I think in Renegade you are rescuing some chick that got kidnapped or something. You can see how they took a character (the bald kid with a club) and changed nothing but his skin color:

It seems that we have exhausted ourselves with screen-shots and nostalgic digressions about Commack's arcades in 1990 and neglected to elaborate on the N.A.S.T.E., the primary purpose of this post. Takotron refuses to take responsibility for your disappointment, but please accept our luke-warm apologies.

Posted by thenovakids at 1:12 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:02 AM CDT
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Wednesday, 9 March 2005
Topic: Site Features
Today our technicians enhanced our VISIONS image galleries by a factor of 13%, in hopes of pulling in an extra .038% markup on traded shares this quarter. Please look over the new galleries to ensure personal inspiration and succumb to your inevitable obsession with our creations. DO IT.


Takotron corporate picnic flag-football, March 06, 2005

Posted by thenovakids at 10:56 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:03 AM CDT
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Tuesday, 8 March 2005
Topic: Kei officially announces KEI'S PARTY. If you can't check out the party, you can at least check out this FLYER produced by our Ministry of Design and Entertainment.

NEWS: The LOST + FOUND page has 2 new images and more on the way. You are strongly advised to visit this page.

Posted by thenovakids at 11:25 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:03 AM CDT
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Monday, 7 March 2005
Topic: Site Features
Perhaps you have been checking back to this page longingly, hoping to find something new and exciting offered to you by us here at TAKOTRON. Well, we have of course been hard at work programming an amazing new page that we're sure you'll find incredible but probably not. It is a special game inspired by the hair of real life sex offenders!!!


Posted by thenovakids at 10:43 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:06 AM CDT
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Wednesday, 2 March 2005
Topic: Movies
last weekend saw the birth of a magnificent creation: It is a pear and almond tart with an apricot glaze, created by Kei who has become an expert on tart-fabrication. This weekend or next may be similarly productive.

A week or 2 ago we watched goodfellas, which is still great. It's too bad Scorcese has to make movies now that are ambitious but shitty, a la Gangs of New York and The Aviator. Those earlier movies were great and are now of historical significance, so I guess they should be appreciated as exactly that, rather than be used as templates for his newer movies. I think Casino was like that, pressed from the Goodfellas or Raging Bull template (Joe Pesci even got his ribs busted by DeNiro again, for real), but I really liked it. Joe Pesci buried alive and DeNiro playing a Jewish character? Sweet. But now, let us mourn those past days of Classic Scorcese.

Goodfellas is also important as an origin for Kei's new favorite gesture, which is added to the inventory that already includes the Asian 'V'-fingers camera pose, head-tilt-smile-wave, and laugh-accompanied low handclap. This new move comes from none other than Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill, mob-wife extraordinaire. Here's how you do it: you put up your index finger and thumb, as though you might be describing the size of something small. But what you are actually indicating is something relatively big--a stack of cold hard illegally-obtained cash! Ms. Bracco's character threw up the sign when asked by her husband "how much" she needed to go shopping that morning. Kei uses it as a hopeful transition from a pouty face. ZANNEN!!! I have a stack of quarters for laundry, but I don't think that's the same.

Posted by thenovakids at 10:50 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:06 AM CDT
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Tuesday, 1 March 2005
Roper v. Simmons / Lundgen v. Artner
Topic: Miscellaneous
First, I'm thrilled with the announcement today of the Supreme Court's narrow decision to ban the execution of minors. I don't understand why in any case minors are tried as adults--proponents say the severity of the crime somehow warrants it, but the more severe the crime, the graver the consequences, which means age is all the more significant. You can't vote or buy cigarettes or serve in the military but you can be executed? I don't think so, and neither does the rest of the civilized world. Some noteable exceptions are IRAN, CHINA, SAUDI ARABIA, and PAKISTAN. And probably N. Korea. Of course, the only states in the US that have done this are VIRGINIA, TEXAS, and OKLAHOMA, which I guess are the Pakistan Iran and Saudi Arabia of America. That's why they tried Lee Malvo, sniper child, in VA instead of MD. And Texas should have a fucking scimitar on its state flag. Listen to this bitch, quoted in today's AP article on the case:

"Dianne Clements, president of the Houston-based Justice for All victims' advocacy group, criticized the decision and said she hopes that when there is a Supreme Court vacancy a strong death penalty supporter is nominated.

'The Supreme Court has opened the door for more innocent people to suffer by 16- and 17-year-olds," she said. "I can't wait for the Supreme Court to have judges more concerned with American values, American statutes and American law than what the Europeans think.'"

In other news, Alan Artner, Chicago Tribune art "critic," is no longer a person I want to meet and start a fight with, as I mention in my Friendster profile. I in fact met him at my part time job at the Art Institute book store, and he was nice. I still don't care for his reviews--he doesn't seem to like art that requires thinking, and he seems to uncritically praises whatever big blockbuster they put up at the Art Institute.

Now I just wanna meet DOLPH LUNDGREN. He is far superior to such comparable actors/characters as Schwarzenegger, Van Damme (who lied about winning a bunch of kickboxing titles, and then declined offers to enter real tournaments when invited by offended real title-holders), Stallone, and even tubby old Steven Seagal (who has real street-creds, as in opening the first accredited Aikido Dojo run by a foreigner in Japan; recognition by high-ranking Buddhist priests). Dolph is clearly a step above. He got a masters at MIT in Chemical Engineering on a fulbright scholarship, after serving in the Swedish Marines and studying on scholarship in Sweden and Sydney, Australia. He also won several major full-contact Karate championships, and turned down a professional boxing contract. All before his movie career blossomed, seeing the creation of numerous films which proved inspirational to my grade-school self--The Punisher, Rocky IV, Universal Soldier--all the apex of that genre.

Kei and I even communicated with the man/legend through his website! See the September 2004 message board archives at his official site OFFICIAL SITE I can't wait till the big showdown with Alan Artner, who actually was fairly tall himself.

Posted by thenovakids at 6:20 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:06 AM CDT
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Sunday, 27 February 2005
Topic: Site Features
Our R+D team has finally transmitted to HQ their week-long project, and the results have exceeded the expectations of the board.

In the official TAKOTRON news from yesterday or the other day or whatever you will find the TAKOTRON font, v2.0. It's of course awesome, and we are proud to announce that we were just contacted by the US DEPT OF THE TREASURY who have bought the rights to use it on every DOLLAR BILL MINTED HENCEFORTH. The amount paid shall not be disclosed, here, but lets just say Comptroller Hotoda will finally be able to afford those Platinum-plated front teeth she has been hankering for.

Interestingly, it happened to be a broken link that has since been fixed. Though we apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused, TAKOTRON refuses to issue an apology or accept responsibility for this tragedy.

Also, please visit the new IMAGE GALLERIES.

Posted by thenovakids at 9:47 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:06 AM CDT
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FONT v2.0
Topic: Site Features
OK, while enjoying the magical aromas of Kei's developing Pear-almond tart with apricot glaze, I've worked out some kinks in the now famous TAKOTRON font. You must download it NOW. If you downloaded v.1, you just delete it out of your WINDOWS/FONT and replace it with this one.


I have many potentially interesting stories to post here, but I'm spending some time redoing all the new image galleries. There are still some glitches, but you can see them in their nascent state here:

Posted by thenovakids at 2:08 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:09 AM CDT
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Thursday, 24 February 2005
Topic: New York / Commack

More later.

Posted by thenovakids at 12:11 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:09 AM CDT
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Monday, 21 February 2005
Topic: Japan (misc)
Good evening my loyal followers. Our researchers have finally completed work on the official TAKOTRON font. The results are sure to blow your mind, though they probably won't. Full of innovation and hard work, but mostly not. Anyway, you can download it here. This is only v.1, so it's all caps, no numbers or punctuation yet. Sorry. I'll keep working on it. Or rather our high tech research team will. DOWNLOAD THIS FONT!!! and then you put the ttf file in your windows/fonts folder, and it should work in MSword and all that.

In other news, Miss Comrade Hotoda and I had a serious discussion regarding the magical and mysterious "tanuki no kintama." That means raccoon balls. Allow me to attempt an explanation; there are these traditional statues all around Japan, especially in older neighborhoods, that depict Tanuki and their huge balls. Apparently they are some sort of folk-lore trickster legend. They look like badgers, but they are called "tanuki," which means "raccoon," so i don't know what that discrepancy is. Perhaps it's part of the scrotal myth.

They also like booze and fishing.

and the kids love 'em.

Posted by thenovakids at 10:06 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 1:12 AM CDT
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